It used to be a family tradition of mine to go on staycation whenever there was a long holiday. In 2008, my aunt decided to have a big family staycation and she was extremely excited about how good of a deal she got. She kept mentioning how cheap the chalet was but now that I think about it, a cheap chalet in Singapore during a public holiday was simply too good to be true. But of course, at that point of time I was still too young to be suspicious of such things. I was just excited that I got to spend the weekend with my close cousins at a chalet.
When we arrived that’s when things started to change. The area looked very gloomy, dark and rundown. As a child, I wasn’t afraid of the dark or being alone and it was rare for me to feel afraid but staring at that chalet brought chills down my spine. The outside looked slightly run down and it was quite isolated from other chalets in the area. There was another chalet quite nearby to ours that was identical to the one we were staying at, but it was completely closed off to the public. The gate of that chalet was chained up and we found so many religious talismans on it. It was then that my mother started feeling unsettled about the place.
Before any of us entered the chalet, my uncle decided to do the call of prayer to ward off any evil in the house. In our religion, the call of prayer is said to protect us from any other worldly beings that could potentially harm us. So in hindsight, it was performed out of good intentions but little did we know just how upset we made them. Nothing could have ever prepared us for what transpired that day – especially me. To this day, I cannot fully grasp what happened to me but all I know is that all those stories about ghosts and jinns are real.
Once the call of prayer was done, we turned on all the lights and started checking out the rooms. The girls would all share a room, the last door on the left, closest to the toilet. We placed our bags and luggage in the room before proceeding to the living room. The adults decided to go out to buy some food while the teenagers would stay and watch over the young children. I remember all of us being in one room and simply just playing with one another when the kakak who was watching us decided to entertain us with a story; a ghost story.
I remember feeling uncomfortable throughout the storytelling session. I also noticed something different about the kakak, as though something had taken over her. She was usually quiet and not very extroverted. She always kept to herself and prior to that day, she had never interacted with me. So I found it odd that she was engaging with us. Until today, I can never forget her eyes as she told the story.
Her eyes were wide, unusually wide like she forced her eyes open to keep a close eye on our every move and she had this really creepy smile plastered on her face in an attempt to look friendly but behind it, I can feel something more sinister. What solidified for me that things were amiss was when I wanted to leave the room and right as my hand reached the door, she slammed her fist on it and said, “NO ONE GETS TO LEAVE UNTIL I SAY SO!”
Her face was red with anger, her nose was flared and she was breathing hard, as though she had run a mile. She clenched her jaw so hard that she looked almost demonic. Something in the back of my mind was telling me to comply with her if I wanted to stay safe. So I got back onto the bed and let her continue with the story. As she continued on with her story, I remember thinking to myself, what can I do to stop this? What can I do to get out of this room? I know my younger cousins were awfully spooked by kakak’s behaviour. They were silent and huddled together on the edge of the bed, furthest away from kakak. Just when I thought nothing could possibly stop her –
Two knocks came on the door, signalling the end of our misery. I rushed to open the door and in came my aunt to check up on us. She said lunch had arrived and we needed to go down to the dining table to eat. I remember staring at kakak as I left the room and she looked confused and scared – like she couldn’t comprehend what had just happened. Her own younger sister was so afraid of her that she started crying when my aunt came into the room. Until today, I find myself wondering if she had any recollection of how she treated us.
When the sun started setting, my mother instructed me to shower and change as she didn’t want us to shower too late. I followed my mom to the toilet nearest to our room and it was there that I noticed my mom behaving oddly. The moment she opened the toilet door, and turned on the lights, she gasped and quickly looked down, as though trying to avoid something. She rushed me into the toilet and pulled the door to leave a small gap. She instructed me to pass her my clothes and right after I did, she quickly left.
The toilet light was bright and it was apparent that it hadn’t been maintained in so long. The tiles were full of stains and I remember feeling quite disgusted by how dirty it was. As time went on, I felt something staring at me. The hairs on my arms started standing and as I was showering, I remember not wanting to wash my hair for fear of having to close my eyes. But the fear of my mother scolding me for not washing my hair outweighed the fact that a ghost was probably glaring at me. After convincing myself to quickly get it over and done with, I closed my eyes and quickly poured water over my head.
I remember feeling something right in front of me when my eyes were closed. It was looming over me and I felt this intense fear surge through me and it was so strong that it paralyzed me. I shut my eyes tightly, not wanting to look at whatever it is. I wanted to get out but I felt as though my feet had been glued to the floor. It was inching closer to me each second and as it got closer, the silence became even more deafening. What did this thing want from me?
“Are you done?” my mother called out.
The moment I heard her voice, I felt a strong wind just move past me. My eyes shot open and I quickly opened the door. I nodded my head and she quickly wrapped me in a towel. I wanted to open my mouth and tell her what had happened, what I felt but I don’t know if she would even believe me. She asked me to change in the room and I complied.
I should have asked her to stay. I should have told her I was afraid because next thing I knew, I had fallen asleep and woken in the middle of the night. I had no recollection of what happened after I showered or how I fell asleep. I was already dressed in my pyjamas and everyone was asleep.
I felt an urge to leave the room so I quickly got up and headed for the door. Once I left the room, I stared at the hallway. Right by the stairs, there was a large window and I remember being so completely afraid to walk past that window. I could feel it, there was something outside that window, something evil. It was completely dark out and the light at the stairs was the only thing shining in that hallway. I stood right outside that door for a good 30 minutes before I mustered up the courage to run down the stairs without looking out the window.
When I reached the living room, I noticed that the TV was on but it was completely static like it had no connection or it was set to the wrong channel. I wondered why the TV wasn’t turned off. There was no way the adults could have forgotten to turn it off given how both my parents and my aunt were so particular about having appliances off when not in use.
Out of curiosity, I decided to approach the TV and that’s when I saw my father sleeping on the sofa. The moment I saw him, he woke up and stared at me. He slowly got up and sat down on the sofa, staring at the static TV. I was confused as to why he wasn’t talking to me and asking me why I wasn’t asleep.
Whenever I got up in the middle of the night, he would scold me and tell me to go back to sleep so it was odd that he didn’t. I remember hearing a cat crying constantly and I whispered to my dad, “Ayah, there’s a cat crying, can we let her in?”. He looked at me and nodded quietly. I drew the curtains and opened the balcony door to let the cat in. When she came in, she went straight under the sofa and I realized there were kittens under the sofa. I watched the mother cat quietly feed the kittens and shortly after, I heard someone walking down the stairs.
I watched as my grandfather came down the stairs with a cup in his hand to get some water. My grandfather walked straight to the kitchen and he looked as though he did not notice me at all. My grandfather would never ignore me. Whenever he caught anyone of us up, he would always question us and put us back to bed but it was the fact that he completely did not look at me. After filling his cup, he went back out to the living room and started making his way up the stairs. I opened my mouth to call out to him and suddenly, my dad brought his index finger to his lips, telling me to be quiet.
I frowned, not understanding why he didn’t want me to call my grandfather. I stayed quiet and watched as my grandfather headed up the stairs until I could no longer see him. The TV was now turned off and that’s when I noticed how dark the living room was. My father was still seated on the sofa, staring into nothingness. I decided to ask him what’s wrong. I walked towards him and patted him. When he turned to look at me, my vision turned black and when I came to, I was already dressed in my day clothes and seated in front of the TV console in the living room.
It was now close to midday and everyone was packing getting ready to leave. I was so confused. How did I get dressed? When did I shower? How did I go back to the room? My mind was filled with so many questions but seeing how busy my mom was, I decided to not disturb her. While waiting for my mom to finish packing, I sat in the living room quietly, trying to process everything that happened the night before. Could it have been a dream? The thought immediately left my mind when my aunt said, “Eh, where did this cat come from?”
I froze and slowly turned to look at the cat. It looked exactly like the one I let in last night. That was when I knew, it was definitely not a dream. Wanting answers, I decided to check if my grandfather had gone down at night to refill his cup.
I asked my grandfather if he had gone down to the kitchen late in the night. I pointed out exactly what he was wearing and his face changed. He stayed silent for a moment before telling me that he did. Before I could ask him further, he got up and went to my mom to speak to her. As we were leaving the chalet with our bags, I saw my dad at the carpark waiting for us. As he collected the bags from me, I decided this was the best time to ask him.
“Ayah, were you asleep on the sofa last night?”
He looked at me, confused by my question before replying “No, I slept at home.”
Until today, I will never truly know what happened to me or what all of us experienced. Whenever I talk about that day, my mom would always stay quiet. Over the years, my aunt did open up to us about her own experience and I got to know that my uncle got choked in his sleep by a supernatural being because he did the call of prayer before entering the chalet. My grandfather believes that the beings that stayed there were upset as we disrupted their peace. My aunt also shared that my mother saw a ghostly figure in the bathroom that was why she was so afraid to be in there.
As I write this story and reflect upon my experience, I truly believe that I was in another dimension that night and somehow, through God’s will, I was able to make it out back into the world. I will not disclose the name of the chalet that my family went to but for those of you who are planning to book a chalet in Changi, please be mindful of your behaviour, words and actions. It is best that you do not upset the beings living in that area.